VICTORIA, British Columbia — To get to the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship from Grey Goatee Global HQ, you need to head north on Highway 101 along Hood Canal about as far as it goes, then take a hard left along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It’s a drive you should undertake even if you don’t have to.
It’s got some scenery, for sure, and the names of places and features trip lightly off the tongue. I rolled past Hama Hama and Duckabush and resisted a screaming stop and turn into the Geoduck Tavern in Brinnon. Closer to Sequim, not far from Jimmy-Come-Lately Creek, I kept on past the road to Cedars at Dungeness, a worthy golf course with the famous crab bunker on No. 3.
A man alone on the highway and really ready to be off it does little doodles in his brain, and when I spotted the FOOD NEXT RIGHT before the exit to Sequim proper I saw only Sawadee Thai Cuisine. Nothing right then in the world sounded better than Thai food.
International linguistic digression: Sawadee means hello in Phuket (I know how I’D pronounce it), which is the Thai language. If you’re a female you say sawadee ka, if a male sawadee khrup. This is all courtesy of the research goons, and it would be useful if I was a farang in Krung Thep looking for a decent plate of pad prikh king.
But the foreign country on my itinerary is Canada, not Thailand, and I was running late for the Black Ball ferry from Port Angeles, Wash., to Victoria, B.C. I saved that right turn for another day.
I barely had time to slam down a WTF IPA from Natalie, the title character in the Barhop brewpub, who cheerfully made change so I could pay for ferry parking next door. I was last in line to walk on the boat.
In Victoria, it turns out, there’s no Uber, and the Bear Mountain Resort is one expensive cab ride away. No worries: I’ve mastered the BC Transit bus routes. Gonna take the No. 11 downtown. Find me some Thai.
There’s serious glitter on top of the first-day leaderboard here. You know these guys: Jerry Kelly, David Toms, Bernhard Langer, John Daly, Jerry Smith —
Stop. Who, please, is Jerry Smith? He looks like he sells insurance at a strip mall in Council Bluffs. I said as much to the Grey Goatee Research geeks. The bureau chief said, “Dude, he IS from Council Bluffs.”
Journeyman PGA tour pro, 53 years old, who managed to make a couple million out there without ever winning. He’s won once in three-plus seasons on PGA Tour Champions. Birdies on the first four holes of the back nine Friday pushed him to a 64 and a share of the first-round lead with Steve Flesch (no household name, either) at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship.
Change that polo shirt to a cardigan … yeah. Mister Rogers.